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GOODYEAR: No Tire Drama Expected at RIR

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By Mary Jo Buchanan – While there will no doubt be plenty of drama on the track at Richmond as drivers attempt to race their way into the Chase, Goodyear is counting on a drama-free evening, at least as far as its race tires go.

The official tire company of NASCAR re-visited their tire compounds for the upcoming Richmond weekend after issues surfaced at the spring race in April, where several teams experienced high wear, mostly on the right-front tire position. In fact, some of the tire troubles even led to fires as the tires unraveled.

“Once it started spiraling,” @DennyHamlin said of the tire issues. “Then it caught around the (brake) rotors, caught fire and burned the tires to the ground.”

Goodyear heeded those concerns and headed back to the track on July 8th and 9th to do further testing in order to come up with the best tires possible for the final race before the Chase at Richmond this weekend.

Trent Owens, crew chief for @Aric_Almirola, was with one of the teams that participated in that test, along with the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team with Hamlin, the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing team with @GBiffle, the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing team with @KurtBusch, and the No. 26 BK Racing team with @ColeWhitt.

“We did see some tire issues the first race, although our team particularly did not,” Owens said. “Several teams throughout the race had some excessive wear though.”

“We participated in the two-day tire test,” Owens continued. “We ran several long runs. I like the way Goodyear did the tire test and they sure got enough information to bring an adequate tire here.”

“Every team that was here was able to do 40 to 50 lap runs continuously. They wanted us to run laps past where they experienced the failures before. They did a good job by evaluating that part of it by not just putting a tire on it for ten laps and seeing if they liked that one.”

Biffle, who also participated in the July Goodyear tire test, shared his assessment of the tires, echoing Owens’ assessment.

“We all liked the 2013 tire which seemed to have good grip and all that,” Biffle said. “I think that we’ve found a tire that’s a decent compromise.”

As a result of the test, Goodyear did indeed make changes, noting that the right sides in the spring were a little shorter than in 2013, thus taking some stagger out of the tire set up in relation to the left-side.

With the change for this race weekend, Goodyear left the right sides basically the same size as the spring but shortened up the left sides, giving the teams back most of the stagger they had with the 2013 Richmond tire set-up.

For comparison sake, Goodyear further clarified that in 2013, the stagger (or the difference between the shorter left side tires and the taller right side tires which helps the cars turn better) was 33 mm or 1.30 inches. In the spring race of this year, the difference was 19 mm or 0.75 inches.

For the upcoming fall race, Goodyear has gone back closer to the 2013 number, with a difference of 29 mm or 1.14 inches.

As a result of the tire test, Goodyear also announced the specific new tire codes for the upcoming Richmond race as D-4632 for the left-side, which features a mold shape change to add more stagger, and D-4634 for the right side, which features both construction and compound changes and is designed for better wear and the ability to lay down rubber.

“I think there are some slight differences but I think the tires from the compound perspective are similar to the 2013 tires,” Owens said. “There are some added benefits and construction benefits as opposed to that exact tire.”

Owens also clarified that Goodyear has provided all the teams with intensive test data not just after the on-track experience but after the tires were further tested at another facility.

“We’re able to study the tire in a lot of detail before we ever get here to the track,” Owens said. “We obviously look through that data and match up the best we can to something in the past or what we think is the right way to go. Goodyear does a good job of providing that data to all the teams. We’re not getting here blind.”

‘Although it is true that we have a new tire, along with that new tire we’re supplied quite a bit of data that supports our decision-making about pressures, choosing our camber setting for wear, etc. They have that stuff out front so that we can make our adjustments before we ever get to the track.

“Just looking at everything, it doesn’t look like anything majorly different than 2013. I think it should be a better tire than what we had earlier in the season.”

“I’m not worried about the tires, at least right now,” Owens continued. “I felt like we did the tire test and the way the test was conducted, the amount of combinations that Goodyear allowed the teams to run, I think they did their part. We shouldn’t have to manage tires or worry about them blowing out 30 or 40 laps in. None of us want to deal with that.”

“If everything is true, we shouldn’t have any issues and we will see great racing.”

EMAIL MARY JO AT mj.buchanan@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW MARY JO ON TWITTER: @maryjobuchanan

Mary Jo Buchanan

Mary Jo Buchanan has been a race fan since her childhood, having grown up at a local Pennsylvania dirt track. With her experience in the pits, she has developed an interest and expertise in all levels of racing, from the local scene to the highest level of the sport. Many of her articles focus on the ‘behind the scenes’ and sometimes ‘off the beaten path’ stories about the world of racing. Buchanan also enjoys writing about up and coming drivers and the people that make NASCAR work on a daily basis.

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